Transforming Lives

Every day, all over the world, USAID brings peace to those who endure violence, health to those who struggle with sickness, and prosperity to those who live in poverty. It is these individuals — these uncounted thousands of lives — that are the true measure of USAID’s successes and the true face of USAID's programs.

Two USAID projects recently collaborated to install a solar-powered water pump at Shaikhan Girls School in the Mir Bacha Kot District of Kabul Province. 

Five years ago, teachers in high schools struggled with a lack of knowledge and students found it hard to grasp concepts in tedious lectures. A few years before that, females were banned from teaching and studying at all. Now, classrooms in Afghanistan are starting to feel full of life as young men and women study with confident, skilled teachers who present up-to-date materials in an interesting way.

Paktika Province sits on Afghanistan’s southeast corner along the Pakistan border. Living in an area hotly contested in recent decades, Paktika residents must deal with long-neglected infrastructure. Subsistence farmers using rundown irrigation systems struggle to keep their crops alive. The return of émigrés and a stream of refugees from Pakistan further strain the local economy.

Pamir Belawr Salt Refinery Company is a local Afghan-owned firm that produces salt in Mazar-i Sharif. The firm started business in 2006, and has received a 10-year contract from the Afghan Government to extract salt from the Dawlatabad District Quarry in Balkh Province. The company used basic equipment and machinery to extract and process salt. It did not have the capacity or the machinery to process the extracted salt into refined and crystallized form ready for consumption. It also did not have access to a lab to test the salt quality. Therefore, its product was low quality and unsafe.

Azin Tani, the principal at Bibi Halima Girls School in Khost City, remembers the health issues that her students faced when they studied in poorly ventilated classrooms. “Five to seven girls a day fainted because of the heat. On one occasion, we ran out of cars and could not transport all of the sick students to the hospital. A few of the older girls were forced to remain behind, lying in the shade while some of the teachers fanned them until they were able to stand.”
As part of efforts to support the right to universal education listed in the National Constitution of Afghanistan, government leaders in Khost Province reached out to USAID for help in rescuing the school, which was in a troubling state of decay.

Few Afghan women have opportunities to pursue careers in media-related activities. Media professions are both risky and at odds with traditional Afghan society. The journey toward a media career is riddled with challenges, especially because women have few opportunities to receive professional training using modern equipment. A few institutions offer training, but their fees are unaffordable for most women. Dubbing foreign films and animations is a distinctive area. It requires vocal acting and precision. Dubbing skills are sought after by several Afghan TV stations.

Kura-e-Mabain is a remote village located in Shahr-e-Buzurg District of Badakhshan Province. The local middle school in the village is a state-run institution that did not have any furniture. Approximately 450 boys and 300 girls from four local villages attend the school.

Balkh Province, situated in Afghanistan’s northern region, covers an area more than 16,000 km2 and is the fastest growing area in the country. With a population of more than 1.1 million throwing away waste products, the affect on the environment is hazardous. Many consumer products such as bottled-water, oil, beverages, dairy products, etc., are supplied in plastic packs. Considering the relatively high population growth, solid waste – plastic in particular – is also growing in the region. Currently, the municipality collects and disposes of all waste. There aren’t many private firms that collect and recycle plastic.

Afghan journalists work in an uncertain political, legal, and regulatory environment, which can have a chilling effect on media content and open and fair discussion about social and political issues. Journalists often find themselves carefully negotiating complex issues attracting all range of legal threats.

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Last updated: January 08, 2015